10 Secrets of a Great Handshake

The handshake is the most important professional greeting in business today. It is something most of us do often, particularly in business. We shake hands.   We shake hands with long-time friend, old acquaintances and with new clients and colleagues.

The handshake is a part of the first impression we make. Together with the first impression we make with our appearance, body language and grooming, it is the handshake that is the first point of physical contact.

 wet fish handshake


  1. Start with eye contact and a sincere smile.
  2. A great handshake isn’t just about a physical gesture, it is about connecting with the other person. The act of the physical greet is about conveying pleasure and connection with the other person. The best way to do this is with your face and your eyes. Offer your hand as a sign of open body language.
  3. A great handshake is firm but not overpowering. It isn’t a wrestling match but neither should it ever feel like a wet fish! Always ensure your grip is firm, but be aware also of the other person’s hand. The web of the hand is the part between the lower thumb and index figure.       Always aim to connect web to web.       Curl fingers around the palm of the other person’s hand.
  4. A good handshake has a nice gentle up and down motion, not a back and forth one as if you were using a saw. Adjust the motion to what seems natural and comfortable to the other person.
  5. Always ensure that you do not overly-squeeze the other person’s hand particularly if your hand is physically bigger than theirs.       Conversely, if you have small hands, always ensure your grip is very firm.
  6. Depending on the situation, some people prefer a long handshake whilst others prefer them much shorter. Observe the other person and adjust the duration depending on what seems comfortable to them. Holding on too long may seem overly familiar, whilst too short may appear rude and rushed.
  7. While it may not be appropriate in some situations, people often use their other hand to grasp the other side of the person’s hand or touch their arm. This gesture makes the introduction warmer and more personal. Tread carefully here as you do not want to appear overly familiar.
  8. Hands should always be clean and dry – no-one likes a sweaty, clammy hand.
  9. Close with continued eye contact and smile.
  10. If your handshake is memorable (for the right reasons), it is successfully helping you build a great personal brand.
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